Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Sunday pitched for a resolution of the contentious Ram temple issue at the earliest and asserted that a common Muslim does not have an “attitude of conflict” that may harm social unity.
He, however, advocated a “wait and watch” approach amid demands from many of his BJP colleagues for a law to construct a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, and said the Narendra Modi government has not spoken on the matter yet.
“Whatever stand the government takes will be my stand as well. The government has not spoken on the matter so far,” Naqvi told PTI in an interview.
The issue should be resolved at the earliest, he said.
To a question on how Muslims view the thorny issue as, the Minority Affairs Minister said, “A common Muslim wants peace, and an amicable settlement. A common Muslim does not have an attitude of conflict which may harm social unity.”
Asked about no adverse statement coming from Muslims on the temple issue, he said, “Muslim community is a very peaceful community. They don’t want to involve themselves in any destructive agenda.
“Some individuals, some political parties for their own interest can try to incite people. So people feel that there should be a peaceful solution and it (the matter) should be ended.”
Naqvi also rejected the opposition’s claim that the BJP and its Hindutva affiliates were deliberately bringing forth the Ram temple issue ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.
The matter has long been in court, and organisations linked to it, he said in an apparent reference to Hindutva bodies, thought that day-to-day hearing would be conducted and a resolution would be arrived at soon.
As it did not happen, they have been making their demands, he said.
“People have sentiments and no ban can be imposed on expressing them in a democracy. It is a coincidence that it has happened before elections. Otherwise, it is an old issue,” he said.
Naqvi said the issue of Ram temple was part of the BJP’s manifesto even in the last elections.
He also claimed that there was growing support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi among Muslim voters, saying in the four and half years of his government, their mindset and approach had changed a lot and they had become “very positive”.
“They (Muslims) have seen that his (Modi’s) development agenda is very far from any discrimination or political exploitation,” the lone Muslim minister in the government said.
Asked about the prime minister’s image among Muslims compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he said it was “very positive and constructive” due to his work.
“From America to Arab, Modi’s capable leadership is being acknowledged. Every Indian thinks Modi is the need of the nation,” Naqvi said, adding that there has not been a single big riot or any terror activity under the BJP-led NDA government.
No section of society can say there has been any discrimination in development as all sections have progressed, he claimed.
He alleged that there was a long list of about 5,000 riots under the previous Congress-led governments.
Asked about the cases of lynching, he said they should not have happened but action has been taken against the accused.
Attacking opposition parties for politically exploiting the minorities by keeping them embroiled in non-issues, he said the “dirty dean department” of the Congress has been alleging that there is intolerance and that the minorities are not safe.
Muslims or other voters, he added, were not “bonded labourers” to any party and have begun thinking on the basis of merits and demerits of a government.
Naqvi also supported renaming of some places by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, saying since independence there has been talk of renaming cities that are historically and religiously important.
“In the view of public sentiments, there is nothing wrong if names are changed. When Mayawati was chief minister, she had also changed the names of many districts,” he said, adding that other governments also keep doing it.
Naqvi, who comes from Uttar Pradesh, also said the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties to unseat the Modi government will fail as “two plus two does not make four in general elections”.
“It is not that simple that vote shares of all these parties will add up. Voters are not a transferable commodity. The grand alliance is without any policy or agenda. Its only common minimum programme is ‘Modi hatao, humein kursi pe lao’ (Remove Modi, bring us to power),” he said.
The proposed alliance of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party is being seen as a big threat to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh where it had won 71 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 when the two regional parties had fought separately.
The BJP will do better than the 2014 polls in the general election next year on the basis of Modi’s good governance, performance and inclusive growth.
Taking a dig at the opposition’s alliance, he said it was like “band, baja and baraat with two dozens grooms”.
“We don’t know who is leading and everyone is a prime ministerial candidate,” he said.